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Monday, February 25, 2008

Eye health & being informed...

So about a week ago I started noticing a spot in the lower part of my vision in my right eye that looked like a little grey circle. I could see it better when looking at light objects or the wall and it moved with my eyes.. if I looked right, it moved right.. if I looked left.. etc.
Floaters can have several different shapes and densities. Mine looks similar to the circle in the top middle of this picture.

Being a bit OCD I tend to be very in tune to my body and notice changes almost immediately. I also have perfect vision so this little spot became annoying almost instantaneously.

I've been in the medical on and off for several years and am somewhat knowledgeable about most areas of general health and if I'm not I waste no time checking out Web MD or other sources online to find information, so I knew that seeing things in my vision could possibly be very bad.

Thankfully this was not the case for me. I went to the eye doc today and the vision is still perfect and the floater is a normal progression that occurs with age. I'm sorry did I just say "occurs with age"?! I'm 32.. not 70!.. Sigh.. Apparently some things don't wait that long.

BUT... floaters can also be signs of retinal detachment which if left untreated most always ends in blindness so I thought I'd share some general information with the 3 people who read my blog. =) Thank you gals and guy.. I'm greatly appreciative!

Eye Floaters
Floaters are little "cobwebs" or specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small, dark, shadowy shapes that can look like spots, thread-like strands, or squiggly lines. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They do not follow your eye movements precisely, and usually drift when your eyes stop moving.

In most cases, floaters are part of the natural aging process and simply an annoyance. They can be distracting at first, but eventually tend to "settle" at the bottom of the eye, becoming less bothersome. They usually settle below the line of sight and do not go away completely. Most people have floaters and learn to ignore them; they are usually not noticed until they become numerous or more prominent. Floaters can become apparent when looking at something bright, such as white paper or a blue sky.

Floaters occur when the vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape, slowly shrinks. As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina. These are floaters.

Floaters are more likely to develop as we age (there's that phrase again!) and are more common in people who are very nearsighted, have diabetes, or who have had a cataract operation. There are other, more serious causes of floaters, including infection, inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhaging, retinal tears, and injury to the eye.

Sometimes a section of the vitreous pulls the fine fibers away from the retina all at once, rather than gradually, causing many new floaters to appear suddenly. This is called a vitreous detachment, which in most cases is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment. However, a sudden increase in floaters, possibly accompanied by light flashes or peripheral (side) vision loss, could indicate a retinal detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when any part of the retina, the eye's light-sensitive tissue, is lifted or pulled from its normal position at the back wall of the eye. A retinal detachment is a serious condition and should always be considered an emergency. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent visual impairment within two or three days or even blindness in the eye. Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light in peripheral vision, or a loss of peripheral vision should have an eye care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible.

For people who have floaters that are simply annoying, no treatment is recommended. On rare occasions, floaters can be so dense and numerous that they significantly affect vision. In these cases, a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes floaters from the vitreous, may be needed. A vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel, along with its floating debris, from the eye. The vitreous is replaced with a salt solution. Because the vitreous is mostly water, you will not notice any change between the salt solution and the original vitreous. This operation carries significant risks to sight because of possible complications, which include retinal detachment, retinal tears, and cataract. Most eye surgeons are reluctant to recommend this surgery unless the floaters seriously interfere with vision.

So if you notice anything different about your vision.. however small it's always better to be safe than sorry and go get it checked out!!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy Monday!

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